railroads as public highways case law part 1





Rail roads are a public means of conveyance of passengers and goods by way of wheeled vehicles running on rail tracks. In the U.S., a railroad is a public utility deriving its franchise from a state. A railroad constructed and operated in a state is a public highway. Railroad law encompasses all matters that relate to Railroad services. Railroad cases typically involve personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits by passengers, non-passengers, as well as employees. Workers' compensation is another prevalent issue when railroad workers are injured on the job. Railroads are common carriers and have all the rights, duties, and liabilities of a common carrier. Railroads are also subject to public regulation as public highways.

As a public utility, a rail road corporation agrees to submit to all burdens, conditions, and regulations imposed by the state with reference to its tracks and their intersections with highways necessary to promote or secure the safety of the traveling public. Roads and bridges are not merely for local use but are for the use and accommodation of all citizens of the state. The general public has the same interest in the preservation and maintenance of railroads as it has in the maintenance of other highways. The title to a part of a railroad's right of way, while it is being operated as a common carrier, cannot be divested by adverse possession. The law of railroads is generally of a federal character. Pursuant to 49 USCS 22301, a railroad means any form of non highway ground transportation that runs on rails or electromagnetic guide ways, including:

(i) commuter or other short-haul railroad passenger service in a metropolitan or suburban area and commuter railroad service that was operated by the Consolidated Rail Corporation on January 1, 1979; and
(ii) high speed ground transportation systems that connect metropolitan areas, without regard to whether those systems use new technologies not associated with traditional railroads.




2 Replies

  • Not sure what your point is, if any.  Are you saying that facilities built by a railroad are open to anyone?  Does that mean I can drive my car on a railorad like I drive it on a public highway?  Your legal citations have all the hallmarks of being taken out of context, first the legal reference is USC, for US code., not USCS, second, the section you cite is in reference to capital grants to railroads, third, if this is a general definition of a railroad, why is there a specific reference to Conrail?   Lastly, railroad workers are not covered by Workers Compensation laws, they are covered by the Federal Employee's Liability Act.

    One of the reasons people go to law school is to learn how to frame a cogent argument, maybe you should consider some legal training.




  • In reply to JohnS:

    Not to quibble too much, but the act is the Federal Employers Liability Act, (FELA) and it covers only railroad employees.  Where worker compensation law administered by the states is "no-fault" and designed to return injured and ill workers to their jobs as rapidly as possible, FELA is more traditional tort law in which the worker who claims to have been injuried or made ill on the job must sue for damages and must prevail in court - unless he/she accepts a settlement offer by the employer (carrier.)  This has given rise to a separate bar of lawyers who specialize in what might be considered an arcane law.  Some union, most notably the United Transportation Union and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, designate "authorized" counsel for their members.  That these lawyers may have contributed to the election campaigns of union leaders is another subject for another forum.  Back to the "substance" of this message thread.  The idiot (sorry for the nastiness, but this guy deserves nothing better from me or anyone else who does understand what is involved) who publishes garbage but tries to make it appear as wisdom condemns himself by his own words and lack of intellect.

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